North Santee River Saturday

Discussion in 'Flathead Catfish' started by JAinSC, Sep 11, 2006.

  1. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    I went to the North Santee River, down in the tidewaters - you know how I like those tides (plus it's closer to home), on Saturday. Only my second trip there to target flatheads. This is the same area that I mentioned earlier this summer had "too much wood." The banks are lined with thick forest, so the deeper water is all piled full of sunken downed trees.

    I had some trouble getting bait. I did my usual bit, moving along with the trolling motor casting a little beetle spin, and all I managed to get was 6 or 7 bluegills, one white perch, and one little blue catfish. (That little 9-inch-long blue slammed the beetle spin!) A couple times I caught back-to-back bluegills and thought I had found them, only to go fishless for the next hour. I also fished some shrimp pieces, but the only sunny that bit on that took the hook deep and died.

    Oh well. I wasn't planning on staying real late anyway, and a few baits would be enough to try a couple of spots. My first spot, right around dusk, was near mid-river on a pretty sharp bend. The inside of the bend is a wide shallow sand flat. I anchored where the flat was dropping off toward deep water - with the boat sitting over 11 feet of water. I put out three baits: one cast toward the deep water (the white perch), one shallow, and one straight back (both bluegills). The bait in the middle started getting harassed almost immediately. At first he was tugging against the rod, but then somebody was tugging on him, but nobody big enough to actually take the bait. Just as it was getting dark the deep side rod went down. After one short run the fish came right to the boat - a nice 22 pound flat (38 inches long). The tugging on that center bait had stopped, so I brought it in to check it. The bait was dead and completely scaled on the tail. I put on a fresh bait and tossed it back. The new bait struggled like crazy and did the trick. He wasn't out for ten minutes when that rod bent down. This one was another 22 pound flathead (but 41 inches long, a real skinny fish!) Fifteen minutes later the deep rod went off again, resulting in a 20.5 pound flathead. That spot went quiet after that, though. I gave it about 45 minutes without a bite, before I went to try someplace else.

    I tried two other spots for about 30 to 45 minutes each with no luck. Those spots just felt dead - the baits didn't even struggle. They just sat there. So I went back to the original area, or as close as I could figure it in the dark. It worked out, and within 15 minutes I was hooked up to a good fish - on the deeper bait again. He made the usual initial short run and was half way back to the boat, when he made another run, longer this time. Problem is that at the end of the run, angling toward the deep water, I felt the line wrap on some timber. I tried to pull him free, but I felt a little pop and I ended up snagged to the wood without the fish. I gave that location another little while without any more action, and then left for home around midnight.

    Water temp was 81 degrees around dusk.
    Near full moon rose above the trees around 9:30.
    It was a pretty night: around 70 with stars and moon showing through the hazy clouds.

    There were quite a few big bats out again, and the owls were hooting up a storm in the swamp. Between the jumping mullet and the sipping gar and who knows what else, there were fish splashing around the whole while.

    Not bad for an exploratory trip: 3 flatheads landed and released plus one good fish lost (estimated maybe 30 pounds - felt a bit stronger than the 22's, but didn't seem to have the mass of a real heavyweight).
     
  2. grizzly

    grizzly New Member

    Messages:
    229
    State:
    Griffithville, Arkansas
    Way to go man. Even though you lost a good fish, it sounds like yo had a very good night anyway. grizzly
     

  3. blackwaterkatz

    blackwaterkatz Active Member

    Messages:
    3,659
    State:
    Andrews, SC
    Thanks for that report, John. Glad to hear you had a good night. Keep up the good work.
     
  4. jdstraka

    jdstraka Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,739
    State:
    Council Bluffs, Iowa
    Name:
    John
    Excellent post John ! I was Right there with You while reading it Thanks. And Rep. Points to You Sir. Keepum Comming. J.D.
    :big_smile:
     
  5. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    John,

    I too fish a tidal section of the Schuylkill River here in PA. But unlike you, I have no, nada, nothing sucess with flahead in tidal rivers. I catch flatheads in the river but none in the tidal section. I don't know if I should fish the incoming, outgoing, or slack tides. I have posted a few threads on tidal river flatheads but no one has any answers. I noticed you are the only one on this forum or other forums that have had sucess catching flatheads in tidal waters. So if you have any tips or suggestions, I'll greatly appreciate it.

    Great fishies by the way, Please help me crack the code to these tidal flatties!!!!
     
  6. JAinSC

    JAinSC Active Member

    Messages:
    1,514
    State:
    South Carolina
    Blacky,
    I'll be happy to help if I can.

    First thing I'd check on is the salinity - flatheads can stand a bit of salt, but not much. As a rule of thumb, check the riverbank vegetation. If it's pickerel weed and arrow root and other fresh water stuff, then you are good. If all you see is the salt marsh grasses, then I'd move upriver. Of course, if you have access to a way to measure the salt (refractometer), then you want no more than 1 or 2 part per thousand (ppt). Remember that it will be more salty on the bottom that it is on the surface. If you taste the water and it tastes at all salty, then it's probably too much.

    It may well be that by the time you move far enough up river to find fresh water, you won't have any tide anymore. Maybe the tidal fresh water does not exist much outside of South Carolina and Georgia. The existence of this unique habitat here is the reason that rice fields could be built and it was cultivated here back in the 1800's.

    I fish all the different tide stages, but I have certain spots that I like better on one tide or another. That sort of thing only comes with time on the water, though, once you start catching fish. Basically, I usually fish the little channels of deeper water (10 to 14 feet in the Edisto) that run along a wooded bank with good cover. Often, there will be marshy or swampy reeds and weeds along one bank or on the inside of bends. Extending out from there, the bottom will tend to be shallow for most of the way accross the river until you get to the drop off into deeper water. I either fish in the deeper water as close to the trees and submerged cover as I dare, or (since all the deep water in the Santee is so full of wood that it's scary) along the drop off where the flat drops off to the deeper water.

    I hope this helps! Let me know, please.
     
  7. Blacky

    Blacky New Member

    Messages:
    10,351
    State:
    Philadelphia, P
    no salinity, the ocean is about 100 miles away.

    I know there are flatheads there, many are killed every few weeks in the fish ladder.

    thanks John!!!
     
  8. countrycat15

    countrycat15 New Member

    Messages:
    668
    State:
    gastiona,nc
    sounds like a good day fishin.good job man!